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Friday, February 03, 2006

 

a society of insult


reason captures the quintessential western response to the hemispherical furor that has arisen regarding the depiction of the prophet in the danish (and, subsequently, european) press.

If every time the West does anything it creates 100 new suicide bombers, it's only fair that every time the Islamists try and suppress blasphemy they should create 100 new blasphemers.

In the interest of balance, here's an objection from brusselsjournal.com:

Jee thanx again it shows pure ignorance on ur behalf. What if a muslim draws the picture of denmarki president sucking other men's bottom n showing his wife helping him by doing so?? Will that be 'freedom of speech' the so called democracy??? interesting how the west can force its view points on others in the name of democracy act soo low an arrogant n yet r given the excuse of being so called "democratic". shame on u for accepting such low acts n insulting other peoples religion n inflicting pain upon billions of muslims in the world n yet calling it democracy. I wish a muslim publication in denmark print some filthy cartoons of denmarki president n his wife n will see if the democratic president will see that as a 'freedom of speech'.
For the record, if you have pictures of the president of Denmark sucking other men's bottoms, we'll be happy to publish those too. Sexually explicit pictures of Denmark's Crown Princess Mary are even more welcome. In fact, even if you've got pics of Princess Elisabeth sucking a man's bottom, we'll run those just for shock effect. Now dig the cartoons while I kick back with a Tuborg Gold, the golden beer of Danish kings...
further down in the comments came this recommendation.

I read somewhere that what we need is a movie that does for the war on radical Islam what Dr. Strangelove did for the cold war. You can't play these clowns straight. It needs to be a comedy.
this observer disagrees. "dr. strangelove" is a great western film because it precisely captures our widespread cynicism and disillusionment and focused it on the cold war at a time when that was hard to do.

drenchingly ironic is not where islamic civilization is metaphysically -- this is not a civilization disenchanted with virtually every element of its own past, present and future, as the west now is, waiting calmly for its dissolution while lazily smoking a cigarette at a cafe table.

most muslims still take the world seriously. say what you like about that -- from the western perspective, it's exceedingly gauche and naive -- but it imparts to islamic culture a vibrance and vitality that went missing in the west a century ago which sees now only the occasional bout of militant revival among half-considered ideologues.

i think very few rational observers -- muslims included -- see the rantings of placard-holding zealots in a mob to be intelligent, regardless of who is holding them, even if they can be sympathetic to the views that spurred such overreaction. nor should one take them for the general sentiment of muslims.

but what remains is that the west's inability to respect anything -- about itself or anyone else -- will be a constant source of irritation and conflict with all the non-western peoples of the earth (which include a large and growing number of disaffected proletarians living within the west) until such time as we collapse unto ourselves in our decadence. the childlike reaction of some western media -- to reprint it all, but writ large -- is, it seems to me, all the greater an indictment of the personal irresponsibility that has become the hallmark of being a westerner.

is the freedom of the european press at all threatened by muslim crowds in streets distant? obviously not -- that isn't why the papers are doing this at all. they are doing it from a deep nietzschean cultural antipathy toward restriction or responsibility of any kind, real or perceived. and the more unrest it provokes, the more irresistably titillating it becomes to provoke further, just to show how unaccountable you are.

that is perhaps a dangerous game, but more importantly a vulgar, savage one. there's a bit of cock-crowing hereabouts regarding how "free" we are to do this -- but the entire sordid affair illustrates in part how our obsession with not liberty but freiheit has gutted us as a civilization and made westernism the enemy of a great many thoughtful, concerned people. we have become a society of unconsidered insult.

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I disagree. They want the Danish government to apologize. They call for the heads of all those who criticize the prophet. This isn't the middle ages.

Have you seen the pictures of the signs they're carrying? "Europe, your 9/11 will come". Chanting "Death to the Dutch".

If anything, they have done more harm in their reaction to the cartoon, than any harm initially caused by the cartoon.

One quote was "If they want a religious war, they'll get one"...who said anything about war here? How can they be any more ironic in making the cartoons come true?

What exactly are they complaining about anyway? Muhammed has been 'depicted' for thousands of years, and now we get this reaction? Hell, he was in an episode of South Park for crying out loud. But you didn't hear about that from riots and threats of violence.

 
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at the heart of my criticism of your response, anon is: who are... "they"?

the "they" carrying the placards are very different from the "they" that watch the news in cairo with the same disgust as you or i regarding the messages on the placards.

do you see a difference between the two?

if you do not, then i would humbly submit that you're more problem than solution. if you do, then understand that the latter is a vast majority over the former.

i see the protests in the streets calling for the murder of all westerners as the equivalent of protests in the united states carrying graphic pictures of aborted fetuses and calling for the deaths of pro-choice doctors -- the rantings of a vocal few.

the discomfort they radically embody, however, is more widespread.

Muhammed has been 'depicted' for thousands of years

actually, this is not true. iconography is forbideen in islam, as it was for periods of christendom's history. virtually all variegations of islam hold reverence to an image to be a sinful form of worship -- idolizing that which is not actually god. this is the point of islamic art -- which, without the reverence for icons so fundamental to catholicism, evolved into a very different form of decorative representation.

 
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If your post is an assault on the quasi-existential post-modern meaninglessness. And the strange desire by intelligentsia to probe the level of their own absurdity and meaninlessnes, then I salute you.

I have to qualify that by saying that the desire to deconstruct is a pretty seductive drug and often feeds on itself as both participants progressively extrapolate presupposed facts about each other based on subjective observations.

Just as our society adhere's to Neitzche, or Heidgegger, or camus, or Sartre or (fill in pompous reference here) etc... And as we, as you say: Sit.. "lazily smoking a cigarette at a cafe table" (brilliant euro-visual by the way..). We can also point out that the underclass, or as you say, the proletariat, adhere to Strauss, or (heaven help us) Rand in their almost dangerous loyalty to an idea of universal objectivity.

Your post appears to suggest that the big problem europe believes it is facing is the idea that the governing (nihilist?) elite have to take into account (and monitor) the mass media which can at times provoke violent uprisings and thus must be monitored not for truth (which europe has eschewed for moral relativity), but rather for control. By elite, I mean Arab, Western, Christian, Muslim, etc... All have a rational vested interest in controlling the masses via non-violent and non-economically disruptive means.

In any case, my post is a sad example of an attempt to de-construct the events without once referencing the fact that in response to the posting of very dumb and artistically inept cartoons, large groups of demographically homogenous people have called for violence based on a logic and metaphysics which europe walked away from at the time of the rennaissance. After such refusal to adhere to obejective dogma the growth and progress of their society grew almost exponentially.

 
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Have you seen the pictures of the signs they're carrying? "Europe, your 9/11 will come". Chanting "Death to the Dutch".

Well the Dutch are going to be pissed about this since there is a difference between the Netherlands and Denmark.

I would suspect that there are probably more pressing concerns in the Muslim Arab communities of the Middle East and Europe than being "insulted" by a cartoon.

I just don't understand the misplaced rage.

 
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